Mainland Chinese duo in toilet escape case not guilty as they helped fugitive Leon Li only after he got away from police, lawyer tells Hong Kong court
- Sang Tian, 33, is said to have bought a Beijing-bound ticket for Li, while Zhan Guiyou, 31, allegedly exchanged business documents with him
Two mainland Chinese men accused of helping a suspect escape from police, sparking a citywide manhunt last month, did nothing illegal, their lawyer told a Hong Kong court on Monday.
Sang Tian, 33, and Zhan Guiyou, 31, have been charged with aiding and abetting the escape of Dominican Republic national Leon Li, 34, who allegedly sneaked out of police custody through a toilet ceiling while receiving medical treatment at a hospital on November 14.
But their barrister Cheng Huan SC told the Eastern Court that the duo could not be held liable. He said all the evidence police had against them pointed to their interaction with Li only after he had escaped.
Sang was responsible for buying a plane ticket to Beijing for Li only after he had given officers the slip, and Zhan had merely exchanged business documents with him at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam, Cheng said.
“How could someone commit an offence after someone has escaped from custody?” the barrister asked.
Cheng made his remarks at a preliminary hearing on Monday upon hearing that prosecutors wanted more time to seek legal advice a month after his clients had been brought to court on November 19.
He opposed the request, taking issue with the time the prosecutors required to reach a conclusion on what he said appeared to be a weak case. He also urged the court to grant the two men bail.
But Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen refused to grant them bail while accepting the prosecutors’ request to adjourn the case to January 15.
While his two Mandarin-speaking co-defendants asked for the help of a court interpreter, Li did not..
The businessman faces one count of escaping from legal authority in the present case. On Monday, prosecutors laid an extra charge of failing to surrender to custody on Li, who now faces a total of three charges.
The court previously heard that in 2015, Li had been charged for possession of a fake ID card. He was granted bail at the time and had been on the run since.
The court was also told of an unresolved dispute over the different names Li had been charged under. While he had been referred to in the previous charges as Li Li-hua, he was identified as Leon Li in the latest case.
The prosecutors said they would address the discrepancy at the next hearing.